A friend of mine who is an extraordinarily talented engraver recently suggested to me that I try making some scrimshaw. I knew nothing about it, but jumped right on it, and OMG, I think this could become an obession. I ordered a new scribe tool, a DVD, a book, some ivory, and a few other odds and ends, and set to work learning. I've done pen and ink stippling, which is helpful. And I've done drypoint etching, which is more helpful. Scrimshaw is incising ivory (or plastic, bone, synthetics) and filling those lines/holes/scratches with ink/paint.
Impatient for my goodies to arrive, I did a "spoonshaw" a little over a week ago. This was done with a fairly dull etching scribe (less sharp = larger dot size) with 0-1.5X magnification, on the back of a plastic spoon.
The spoon was done using an old optivisor (1.5X) some of the time, and nothing when I got tired of wearing that thing. I later tried using a ~2X magnifying lamp, but it was so hard to get the image lined up just right so that I could see what I was doing. The pros use stereo microscopes. That's well out of budget right now but to my great delight I learned that my neighbors have one! So the next piece (the elephant) was done at 10X on a scope. WOW it's weird to work at high magnification! But it's necessary, there is no way to get the fine dots and fine detail with the naked eye. Under the 2X lamp, I thought I had areas solid black, but under the 10X scope, I could see more white between the dots than dots themselves! In time if this works out I plan to get my own setup but for now this is incredibly awesome to be able to use theirs.
I finally got all my stuff, and proceeded to really mess up my first attempt on ivory (pre-ban piano keys, if you are wondering). The elephant figure itself turned out pretty good but I made some big mistakes on this piece. I'm going to post it anyway but I must say it's not a good piece, I did a lot of experimenting with different techniques and did some damage along the way. But I learned, oh I learned... I'll just keep this one, or give it away or something, can't sell work that's not up to snuff. I will do a few more practice pieces before I try to sell anything. But.. this has some potential I think. I like it!
scrimshaw on ivory piano key (7/8 by 1-7/8 inches) made into necklace
Depending on your monitor resolution, this is about what I see through the scope: